Paul Waldman tells us, via TAP, what to expect from the Republican's in the general election. Singling out GOP ad guru Alex Castellanos, Waldman paints a very ugly picture of that should surprise no one:
As Castellanos knows well, these kinds of attacks have their greatest power when they tap into pre-existing archetypes voters already carry with them, and the deeper they reside in our lizard brains the better. So they will make sure white Americans know that Obama is not Tiger Woods. He's not the unthreatening black man, he's the scary black man. He's Al Sharpton, he's Malcom X, he's Huey Newton. He'll throw grievance in your face, make you feel guilty, and who knows, maybe kill you and rape your wife. Castellanos knows what he's talking about -- when it comes to painting frightening pictures for the voters, he's the Rembrandt of racial resentment. Among other accomplishments, Castellanos was responsible for a series of ugly ads on behalf of Jesse Helms' 1990 Senate re-election race against Harvey Gantt, probably the most explicitly race-baiting campaign American politics has seen since the retirement of George Wallace. The story continues:Perhaps I am too idealistic, but I believe the public has finally wisened to such attack campaigns meant to appeal to our most basic fears, prejudices, and uneducated preconceptions. Evidence of a desire to put cultural divides behind us can be seen even here in Utah with the current approval ratings of Sen. Chris Buttars and the decline from influence of the narrow-minded Eagle County Forum and similar groups."It's harder for people to say it's taken out of context because these are Wright's own words," noted Chris LaCivita, the Republican strategist who helped craft the Swift Boat commercials against Kerry that employed the use of their target's own language when he returned from Vietnam and returned his medals. "You let people draw their own conclusions."
"You don't have to say that he's unpatriotic; you don't question his patriotism," he added. "Because I guaran-damn-tee you that, with that footage, you don't have to say it."
The Republicans are certainly setting down their marker: they intend, as they have so many times before, to wage a campaign appealing to the ugliest prejudices, the most craven fears, the most vile hatreds. It's not that people should vote against Obama just because he's black, they're saying, but you know, he's that kind of black. As Rush Limbaugh said on Friday, "It is clear that Senator Obama has disowned his white half, that he's decided he's got to go all in on the black side." Ladies and gentlemen, your "moral values" party.
That the conservative "cultural warriors" will take this route (and be assured, they will) is disgusting, yet encouraging to me. They will try again to retain power by dividing us and playing citizen against citizen. It is their version of Rock the Vote, if you will.
This is completely the Democrats' race to lose.